[Met Performance] CID:114100

The Emperor Jones
Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, January 1, 1934 Matinee

Debut : Leonardo Barros

Pagliacci (316)
Ruggero Leoncavallo | Ruggero Leoncavallo
Nina Morgana

Giovanni Martinelli

Armando Borgioli

George Cehanovsky

Alfio Tedesco

Vincenzo Bellezza

Armando Agnini

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

The Emperor Jones (11)
Louis Gruenberg | Kathleen de Jaffa
Brutus Jones
Lawrence Tibbett

Henry Smithers
Marek Windheim

Native Woman
Pearl Besuner

Congo Witch Doctor
Leonardo Barros [Debut]

Tullio Serafin

Armando Agnini

Jo Mielziner

Pagliacci received six performances this season.
The Emperor Jones received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

Tibbett Scores Again in Role Of the Emperor

Acclaimed at Metropolitan in Gruenberg's Adaptation of O'Neill Drama

"The Emperor Jones" began its second season at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday, when "Pagliacci". was the companion of the Gruenberg-O'Neill music drama in the New Year's Day matinee and Claudia Muzio, returning to the Metropolitan fold after twelve years, sang the title role in the evening performance of Verdi 's "La Traviata." A large audience fervently applauded Lawrence Tibbett after his dramatic and haunting impersonation of the fallen island Emperor, and another warmly welcomed the Italian soprano back to this region after a span of years passed mainly in the service of the Chicago Civic Opera.

The demonstration bestowed upon Mme. Muzio at the end of "La Traviata" was unusual both in intensity and in duration; one observer timed its length as twelve minutes as enthusiasts lined up several rows deep along the orchestra pit to applaud ardently and unwearyingly, and recall the singer again and again before the curtain.

Work Near Anniversary

Next Sunday will mark the first anniversary of the premiere of Mr. Gruenberg's operatic version of Eugene O'Neill's unforgettable play; in its first twelve months, counting yesterday's performance, it had been performed eight times in this house and eleven times in all by the Metropolitan Opera Association. It also has been exhibited under other auspices in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with Mr. Tibbett, in every case, as the gradually, memorably and horrendously crazed protagonist.

While acknowledging the dramatic force of '"The Emperor Jones" last season - a force to be credited to the playwright rather than the composer - one could wonder whether this impression was temporary, or whether repeated hearings would affect the spectator in the same way. But yesterday's performance suggested that the emotional force and dramatic effectiveness of the work, taken as a whole, is at least an affair of more than one representation, or of one season: it again thrilled its witnesses yesterday with a sense of atavistic tragedy; it was again able to assault the nerves effectively with strident, convincing sound while arousing sympathy for the hapless Jones, the victim primarily of his own delusions. This effectiveness is not. indeed, attained by mainly musical means, although Mr. Gruenberg's score can be credited with providing a background and atmosphere, and avoiding that impression of retarded dialogue which has been a drawback in not a few American operas.

But, while recognizing the valuable contribution made by the sinister, barbaric dancing of Hemsley Winfield as the Congo Witch-Doctor, the able work done by Marek Windheim as Smithers and by Pearl Besuncr in her brief appearance as the old native woman at the beginning, the success of this work has been associated almost inseparably with Mr. Tibbett, and it is doubtful whether it could get very far if it had to depend upon the average operatic barytone instead of this notable American singing actor.

Mr. Tibbett's impersonation in this role merited warm praise last year. It merited, perhaps, even warmer praise yesterday, suggesting that he had penetrated even deeper than before into the character, the emotional demands of the work, the gradual degeneration of the blustering Negro ruler from confidence to stark panic. The accumulating climax of fear and tragedy were artistically. inevitably, set forth with irresistible dramatic intensity and imaginative conviction.

In "Pagliacci" the first part of the double bill, Nina Morgana was the Nedda: Messrs. Martinelli, Borgioli, Tedesco and Cehanovsky were the other participants under Mr. Bellezza's direction. Mr. Serafin conducted the Gruenberg score.

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